GENEALOGY OF THE STILLWELL FAMILY
THE STILLWELLS IN AMERICA
As a family we have had our family history entertainingly chronicled by the late
Benjamin M. Stilwell, Esq., in his Life and Times of Nicholas Stilwell.1
In his work Mr. Stilwell incorporated, without discrimination, both fact and fiction,
sometimes citing authorities insufficiently convincing.
He stated therein that Nicholas Stillwell, the First,
married Abigail, sister of Lord Hopton, a lady in waiting to Elizabeth, Queen of
Bohemia, whom he rescued under perilous circumstances.
The statement that the wife of Nicholas Stillwell, the First, was a Dutch woman rests
on too meager evidence to be entertained.
Judge Nicholas Stillwell, a descendant through Nicholas Stillwell, the Second,
and a resident of Gravesend, had a hazy tradition that either
the first or the second Nicholas Stillwell brought from Leyden, Holland,
"a Dutch wife and a couple of children"3
and from Benjamin M. Stilwell came the assertion that she was
either a Van Dyke or a Van Dincklage, daughter of the New Amsterdam Schout Fiscal
of that name. With him, Benjamin M. Stilwell, it was merely a belief that she
was a member of one of these two families, based upon some remote association
in his mind of these names, but of proof he had none.4
1. Early Memoirs of the Stilwell Family, comprising the Life and Times of Nicholas Stilwell, the common ancestor of the numerous families bearing that surname, with some account of His Brothers John and Jasper, and incidentally, A Sketch of the History of Manhattan Island and Its Vicinity, under The Dutch, with some contributions to A Genealogy of the Family. By Benjamin Marshall Stilwell, New York, 1878
2. E. B. O'Callaghan, History of New Netherland; or New York Under the Dutch, 2nd Edition, 1855, Vol. I, pp. 207-208. Benjamin M. Stilwell was an intimate friend of this historian, and failing other evidence of its origin, the question arises whether this information concerning Hopton may not have reached him through Benjamin M. Stilwell. The original contracts and original patent issued to Holmes and Hall were lost in the Capitol fire of 1911, but translations of all appear in Vol. 14, pp. 25, 26, 27 and 33 of Documents Relating to the Colonial History of The State of New York. I here quote O'Callaghan in extenso. "The number of English residents, now under Dutch jurisdiction, became sufficiently large to direct the attention of the government to the necessity of obtaining from them some guarantee for their allegience. They were therefore called on to take and subscribe an oath of fidelity 'to their High Mightinesses the Lords States General, his Highness of Orange, and the Noble Director and Council of New Netherland; to follow the Director, or any of his Council, wherever they shall lead; faithfully to give instant warning of any treason, or other detriment to this country that shall come to their knowledge; to assist to the utmost of their power in defending and protecting with their blood and treasure, the inhabitants therof against all its enemies.'
"A complete list of those who subscribed this oath does not appear on the Record, owing to the ravages of time. The following are only names appended to it: John Hathaway, Richard Brudnell, Abraham Lowmay, Francis Leslie, Edward Wilson, George Homes, William Williamson. The three last attached their marks. Albany Records, II. Abm. Page, Thomas Belcher, Peter Buyley, 'from Newheer, in Somersetshire,' and Richard Pither, Irishman, are also mentioned as residents under the Dutch at this time. George Homes and Thos. Hall built a house this year, at a place which they called Hopton, near Deutel Bay, two miles above Curler's Hoeck, now corrupted to Turtle Bay."
3. Personal communications of Judge Nicholas Stillwell, of Gravesend to John E. Stillwell.
4. Personal communications of Benjamin M. Stilwell to John E. Stillwell.
GENEALOGY OF THE STILLWELL FAMILY
NICHOLAS STILLWELL ON STATEN ISLAND
Of Ann, the wife of Nicholas Stillwell, the First, little is known.
She was probably an English woman, for she subsequently became the wife of
William Wilkins and of William Foster, both Englishmen,
and nowhere among the Dutch records, wherein her name appears and where the
opportunity has been ample, has her surname been given,
as was common among the Dutch of that day.
The earliest mention of her name that I have so far seen occurs in the Dutch Church
Records of New Amsterdam, when 1647, Jan. 14, Anne, the wife of Nicholas Stillwell,
was a sponsor, with Richard Cool, at the baptism of Anna, daughter of John Harten,
in the Dutch Church, at New Amsterdam.
She was a lady of good birth and breeding and was alluded to in contemporary
records as Mistress Anne Stillwell, an appellation of restricted use and
confined to those of good station.
Mr. Wilkins died in 1676, and after a brief widowhood, she, Ann, married, by license dated Jan. 13, 1679, William Foster, of Jamaica, Long Island, N. Y. Original license in possession of Dr. John E. Stillwell.
Ann Stillwell's death probably occurred about 1686, for she joined her husband, William Foster, in conveyances, as late as 1684, and was alluded to in an inventory of the estate of Cornelius Stenwick, taken about July 29, 1686, as "Nicholas Stillwell's wife," debtor to the amount £177.4.0, wampum value. That her demise must have occurred about 1686, is further confirmed by the fact that William Foster, in 1687, had another wife, Hannah, alluded to in deeds, as also in his will of this date, 1687.
So far as I have seen Ann Stillwell left no will. Her lands on Staten Island she may have given to her daughter Anne, wife of Nathaniel Britton, or to her son Thomas Stillwell. Her Gravesend property she gave, June 20, 1683, by deed, in which her husband William Foster joined, to her son Jeremiah Stillwell, in consideration of his paying £3, annually, during the life of the longest liver.
1. T. G. Bergen, Esq., states, without giving any authority: "Thomas Baxter, of Gravesend, married July, 1678, Ann or Annatie Stillwell." Kings County Settlers, p. 24. Herein lies a grave and important error. All the Anns in the first three generations of the Stillwell family are fully accounted for, and Thomas Baxter had decamped long prior to 1678, deserting his wife Bridget, who, following his disappearance, secured a divorce, and took to herself a second husband, Capt. John Palmer, of Staten Island and Westchester County, N.Y. By her first husband, Thomas Baxter, she had Alice, baptised 1652, married John Hunt, and a son, Thomas baxter, 2nd. By her second husband, Capt. John Palmer, she had Mary, who married, about 1686, Rev. Francis Doughty; Abigail, who married Thomas Farrington, and Bridget, who married Roger Barton. Thomas Baxter, 2nd, was living in Westchester in 1675, with wife Rebecca, and in his will of 1714 mentioned his wife Rebecca and many children, of which we know he had eleven, the oldest being Thomas Baxter, 3rd born 1675. All this excludes Thomas Baxter being a resident of Gravesend in 1678, with a wife Ann Stillwell. The error may originate in (1) Mr. Bergen's faulty transcription of a baptismal entry in the Dutch Church Records of New Amsterdam; (2) in an error of punctuation in the original church record; (3) in printer's errors in Bergen's work and in the reprint of the Dutch Church Record by the N. Y. Genealogical and Biographical Society. The erroneous statement apparently emanates from the following entry: "Francois Wicks [Francis Weeks] had his children Annatje and Thomas baptised July 6, 1651, with witnesses Thomas Baxter and his house wife Ann Stillwell." At this date Thomas Baxter's wife was Bridget and Ann Stillwell, the witness, whose name follows, and which should have been separated with a semicolon, was the wife of Nicholas Stillwell. The Dutch Church entry should read: Witnesses Thomas Baxter and hi house wife; Ann Stillwell.